Conducting a virtual interview, top tips for hiring managers & candidates

Conducting a virtual interview, top tips for hiring managers & candidates

Recruitment Virtual Interview

Article originally written by Graziella Verazzo. 

Let’s be honest, you can’t beat a face to face meeting. As the hiring manager or interviewer, you have the opportunity to see your potential new team member in what could be their new working environment and you can pick up any cues on engagement and interest, through complete body language. 

It is much easier to build rapport with somebody we’re physically close to, our natural human instincts encourage us to match and pace our opponent. These responses have evolved over thousands of years of humans living and working together. It represents a huge amount of communication that doesn’t always translate well virtually.

However since the Covid-19 pandemic changed our preferred ways of working, we have seen the rise of virtual meetings. Virtual job interviews have allowed hiring managers to continue the recruitment and hiring process throughout lockdown, which is a good thing. However, with it comes a whole new set of challenges that we have had to quickly learn to adapt to.

Technology
Having a good internet connection is key to ensuring a smooth conversation. There is nothing more frustrating than struggling to hear what the other person is saying or the screen freezing in the middle of a crucial question.

Installing and testing the platform beforehand, whether its Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Teams, is also important. Some laptops work better with different platforms, so finding the most reliable platform for your laptop or pc is advisable.

It’s also important to have a backup plan in case technology fails you, for example, exchanging mobile numbers in advance should the worst come to the worst and you need to continue the interview by phone.

Sometimes, failing technology may cause a question to be unclear or garbled. Whatever happens, don’t guess the question. Ask the interviewer and candidate to repeat the question before answering it, so that you can prepare the right response.

If there is a time lag causing the conversation to become stilted, sometimes this can be resolved when either one or both parties agree to log off and then log back on.

Background
Working from home means revealing your surroundings to a complete stranger. If you are fortunate enough to have a home office or be in your work office, then this shouldn’t pose too many problems. However, if you need to work from a corner of your living space, then find a spot that is free from distractions and is clean and tidy whilst ensuring that you have everything you need to hand.

Ensure there is good lighting and avoid screen glares. Check your screen from different positions at different times of the day and weather conditions to ensure optimal viewing.

Distractions
We cannot control external distractions interrupting the interview, such as an Amazon delivery arrival or next door’s dog barking (I once had a builder turn up unannounced to carry out some long-awaited work during an important Zoom call). Whatever happens, keep calm and keep smiling. If necessary, you may need to agree to put the meeting briefly on hold by going on mute and turning off the video, whilst you deal with the disruption. Don’t forget what you were discussing before the interruption took place so that you can smoothly transition back to the interview.

 

Dress code
Being at home means we can be more relaxed about our attire. However, appearances still matter and even though it can be tempting to dress in comfortable clothing, sometimes this can give the interviewer or candidate the wrong impression. Making the same effort as if you were meeting face-to-face can give you more confidence and make a more positive and lasting impression.

 

Body Language
Hidden messages can be picked up during a video call and, since the meeting is focused mostly from the shoulders up, the emphasis on facial expressions is much stronger. Maintaining eye contact helps build a better connection and shows them that you are keen and interested. Not forgetting to smile is also a good way to break the ice.

I interviewed one candidate who seemed extremely nervous and, at the beginning of the interview, hardly smiled at all. This made her appear stern and somewhat disengaged. However, as she settled into the interview, her features relaxed and her personality started to shine through. In my feedback, I mentioned this to her and suggested she starts her interviews with a big smile as this reflects back and helps break the ice.

Interview preparation
For candidates – as with any interview, it is important to prepare yourself for any questions. Familiarise yourself with the job spec in advance, comparing your skills and experience to the requirements of the role. Prepare examples of where you have demonstrated some of the key competencies required in your previous jobs, so you can be specific about how your background and experience is a good match for the role. Research the latest news and trends relating to your professional sector and research the company, its values and mission. Think about why you want to work for them and what value you can bring to the role and to the business.

Prepare some questions that you can ask at the end of the interview if they haven’t already been addressed during the course of the meeting, as this shows your interest in the position.

For interviewers: In the same way that candidates are expected to prepare for an interview, hiring managers and interviewers should do the same. Things like preparing your interview questions in advance, basing some of them on the candidates own skills and experience will allow you to evaluate them properly. By knowing your candidate’s resume, you can save time during the interview process by having them go over the same details.

Remember, interviewers and candidates, are evaluating each other during interviews. On their part, candidates will try to determine whether the job can fulfil their aspirations and whether the company is a good place for them to work.

Make sure you know how to promote your organisation and be ready to answer questions on things like company culture, hierarchical structures as well as new products and developments that are on the horizon. (As long as they are not confidential of course!)

To recap

  • Check that your connection is strong and reliable.
  • Test the platform by doing a mock interview with a friend or two so that you are comfortable using the platform and all of its tools (for example, screen share if you are required to give a presentation or demo).
  • Log on at least 5-8 minutes before the scheduled interview time so you are up and running in good time and can address any last-minute connection hitches well in advance of the meeting.
  • Make sure you have a backup plan in case the connection fails for whatever reason. This will allow you to be more relaxed and confident in the knowledge that you’ve got things covered in case of an emergency.
  • Create a relaxed, clean and uncluttered background, free from distractions and with good lighting.
  • Look presentable, as though you were in the same room together, meeting face to face.
  • Check your body language, smile and hold eye contact.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer or candidate to repeat anything that is unclear.
  • Prepare yourself for the interview questions, do your research, understand the business and its requirements.

 

And finally…

The more remote interviews you participate in, the more confident you will become. Testing different platforms will give you an idea of what works best for you and your laptop/pc so that you can become familiar and comfortable with the different technology that’s available.

Whatever happens in the future, virtual meetings are here to stay.

Should you need any support during your recruitment process, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly HR and Recruitment team, who will be more than happy to assist you. hello@designatedgroup.com

 

October edition of Designated Digest

October edition of Designated Digest

Events Designated

Hello! and welcome to our October newsletter. This month we focus on the events industry. We look at some of the new considerations post-pandemic that go beyond choosing between a virtual, hybrid or live format. Things like safety and sustainability. An Industry worth £39.1 billion to the UK economy, events are big business. Our article looks at the future of the industry in 2022 and beyond.

We also look at what makes a great events manager, and we introduce you to ours! Jodi Newton has over 25 years of experience and has seen it all over the years.

We share details of events we have managed for Princeton University Press and Women on Boards, clients who have been with Designated for several years. If you would like further information on our events services, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

IR35 Reforms – the story so far

IR35 Reforms – the story so far

IR35


It’s been more than two months since the introduction of reforms to the IR35 rules and in that time, thousands of contractors have required contractual assessment and review. 

JSA Group’s assessment platform, IR35 Complete™, has been used to assess contractors with over 750 hiring organisations across numerous industry sectors since the reforms were implemented.  Naturally, this scale of deployment leads to a healthy data set, offering interesting insight about what’s happening in the marketplace.

To date, 18.9% of the off-payroll status determination assessments carried out through IR35 Complete™ have identified that the hiring organisation is in fact not responsible for producing an assessment due to them qualifying for the “small company exemption”. In such scenarios, the IR35 assessment responsibility continues to sit with the worker themselves. The IR35 Complete™ assessment process specifically screens hiring organisations based on their size to ensure that supply chains don’t become polluted with invalid Status Determination Statements produced by exempted hirers.

“Inside” IR35 determinations account for just 28.2% of determinations made. This is interesting because of pre-April concerns that many more contractors were going to be officially classified as “inside” IR35. Of course, there is still some application of blanket “inside” IR35 decisions which isn’t reflected in this figure, but we believe this statistic speaks volumes about the value of carrying out genuine assessments. When roles are properly assessed, instances of “inside” IR35 are much less common, indicating the unfairness of large-scale blanket “inside” IR35 determinations.

“Outside” IR35 determinations show up in 52.8% of cases. When we consider that in practice this number can most likely be combined with the 18.9% of cases where the worker remains responsible for their own IR35 determination, that effectively means that in nearly three quarters of cases, there is no change of IR35 status disruption injected into the supply chain; it’s effectively “business as usual”.

All of this underlines the need for quality, timely and accurate IR35 assessments.

 

Article originally posted on theglobalrecruiter.com, August 2021

The future of the events Industry, 2022+

The future of the events Industry, 2022+

events designated group

It’s no secret that the events industry was hit hard by the pandemic. Worth £39.1 billion to the UK economy and a landscape that thrives on human interaction, making it a sizeable loss to businesses bottom line. Some tech-savvy and forward-thinking companies leapt at the opportunity to save costs and increase event registrations by going virtual. This worked well for some while others struggled with new technologies. Phrases like ‘you’re on mute’ even made it to the 2020 New Years Eve drone show above London’s 02 arena. (How great was that by the way?!) 

One thing we know for certain is that the pandemic accelerated events industry and technology changes that would have taken a long time for many businesses to become accustomed to. Virtual events became a buzzword in 2020, with 52,000 of them happening on just one platform.

But now as we draw towards the end of 2021, what have we learnt about the events industry and what can we expect from 2022+?

Virtual events are here to stay. 

Whether you love them or loathe them, the benefits of virtual events are vast. Depending on the scale, they can be pulled together fairly quickly with the right platform and partners. Live events require everyone to be in the same place, whereas many more people have the opportunity to be part of a virtual event. Your annual event held in a conference room at a London hotel now has the opportunity to go global. Take one of the biggest technology companies on the planet. Microsoft. In 2019 their ‘ignite’ conference attracted 6,000 attendees, each paying $2,395 dollars per person. In 2020 the event was virtual and free. They attracted 197,000 people. There is a revenue question here, but many companies have adjusted their sponsorship packages and opportunities to recoup these losses. Businesses can now afford to run several events rather than just one, also offering greater incentives to their sponsors who could gain greater, more regular exposure.

But what about hybrid?

Hybrid events allow for the flexibility and reach of a virtual event, but the connection and engagement of an in-person option. We will see many events organisers create opportunities for both virtual and in-person experiences for those that want them. Ensuring that face to face networking opportunities are also on offer. Virtual is great, it gets the job done. But there is nothing quite like sharing an experience, reading body language, making eye contact and laughing over how addictive the canapes are this year. Showing up in person also demonstrates your dedication to a particular event or topic. It shows you’re serious about your job and your industry. Not everybody is ready to mix in a room full of people, and that’s why hybrid events will become both popular and petitioned for by events attendees.

Live events will be driven by experience

We now know that an event can work very well as virtual or hybrid. But what about a solely live event. Will events organisers struggle to persuade attendees to leave the comfort of the home laptops? In one sense a live event will be an easy sell, as humans we crave interaction with other people, it is one of our most basic needs and for the best part of 2 years, we’ve kept our circles small. But on the other side, if we can avoid public transport be around to meet family and personal requirements and still get all we want from the event, be it professional upskilling, CPD points or more details about a new and emerging industry trend, why not do it from home?

We predict events organisers are going to have to pull out all the stops in some cases to bring back the delegates. Making it truly worth the journey, a memorable experience that goes beyond great content. That may mean increasing budgets and scrapping formats that have worked perfectly well, pre-pandemic.

Safety and Sustainability

But it isn’t only the experience organisers are going to need to consider. What about safety? Keeping delegates re-assured that you are doing everything humanly possible to make the event a safe one, will be imperative in its reputation. There will also be a renewed emphasis on sustainability. Organisers will need to be able to demonstrate how they are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. On a smaller scale it will be through things such as signage, delegate badges, events collateral and gifts but on a bigger scale – where are speakers coming from? Are they flying across the globe to be present? Events organisers will need to be answerable to their attendees, their sponsors and anybody else with a stake in the business.

The events industry is worth trillions worldwide and it isn’t expected to return fully normal until at least 2023, though we might not know when events will feel familiar again, we do know that the changes brought on by the Coronavarius, will have lasting effects.

If you’re considering setting the date on your events calendar, but aren’t sure where to start, why not reach out to one of our friendly team. Whether it’s a virtual event or a live show, our team can help with strategy, event planning and execution as well as post-event analysis. Contact Marketing Director Michelle Wheeler on michelle@designatedgroup.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet our designated events manager, Jodi.

Meet our designated events manager, Jodi.

Events Designated


What makes a great events manager?
  Attention to detail for sure, creativity and innovation, definitely, and someone with positive interpersonal skills? Absolutely. But In today’s virtual world, you also need somebody with the ability to pick up new platforms and technologies with ease, someone who isn’t afraid to jump right in and learn something new. 

You need that person to be flexible as things won’t always go to plan, i.e a physical event turning virtual at the last minute. The ability to stay calm, level-headed whilst seeking to solve any problems that may arise. 

Meet Jodi Newton. Since 2019 she has been our (excuse the pun) designated events manager. With over 25 years of experience and a commitment to excellence, Jodi has helped numerous clients create and execute both virtual and in-person events, achieving their goals in a smooth and seamless fashion. 

From being a key liaison during the early years of the MOBO awards while working at the New Connaught Rooms through to holding conference and banqueting manager roles at some of London’s top hotels. Jodi has likely seen it all. (If you ever speak to her in person, do ask her about the time she had to fire Santa!) 

We asked Jodi about her favourite events moments during her career, she told us: 

“One of my career highlights has to be being involved in the MOBO awards when they first started at the New Connaught Rooms. For two years in a row, I was their main contact, liaising with the organisers and ensuring that the Operations team had all the information they needed to make the event run smoothly – including dealing with celebrity performers with some very particular demands! It was thrilling watching the event grow into such a huge success over the following years, knowing that we had played an important part in helping them establish their name.

After several years working in Central London hotels and venues, I joined a construction company and organised all their events, from a client lunch for 10 people to a staff weekend away for 200. I loved the new challenges that came from working on behalf of the client instead of the venue. My highlight has to be organising our company’s 10th anniversary, a lavish dinner dance at stunning Banqueting House. For me, there is no better feeling than walking into a room and seeing that everything is in place, everything goes well, and everyone has a fantastic time, knowing how hard I’ve worked to make it happen.”

We also asked Jodi what she feels the events Industry will look like post-pandemic: 

“I’m feeling positive about the events industry for the coming year overall. Covid continues to have a varying effect in different countries, but I do believe the UK Events industry will continue to recover, both for work and leisure.

The pandemic has driven an exponential increase, and improvement, in virtual event technologies and these will still have a place in the future. However, there will always be an appetite for travel and for physically being in the same space as other people, and so hybrid events are here to stay.”

At Designated, Jodi has several, regular clients that she organises and executes events for. The fact they keep returning to work with Jodi, speaks volumes. 

Designated, a lifesaver for sure! 

When Covid 19 hit, the format of all the corporate events at WOB NexGen had to change imminently to meet the dynamic needs of our global corporate partners. The challenge was primarily to switch our in-house workshops, talks and events over to remote hybrid platforms without compromising quality and content. With the swift intervention of Designated and Jodi Newton in particular, we were able to seamlessly move from one to the next. 

Jodi stepped into the multi-faceted role with ease and the necessary professionalism we required to assure our partners that it was business as usual. She has become an integral part of our corporate team who independently manages the planning, execution, and follow-up of all our events. 

Ancia Cronje, WOB NexGen, Head of Corporate Partnerships 

Read the full Women on Boards case study

If you are planning a virtual or in-person, live event and are looking for additional events and/or marketing support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team. michelle@designatedgroup.com 

 

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